Homeowners unaware of responsibilities to maintain drains
Major flooding issues on Canvey could have been added to by hundreds of residents failing to maintain drains on their own land. Many of these residents were completely unaware of any responsibility to do so in the first place.
A resident who owns land next a river, stream or ditch are called a riparian landowner and they are responsible for making sure the watercourse is kept in good condition. A recent investigation by Anglian Water showed that Canvey has hundreds of privately owned watercourses, and many of the residents were completely unaware they were responsible for it’s maintenance.
This investigation has been brought on by the flooding last July, which damaged lots of homes and businesses. Although the homeowner is responsible for the condition of their watercourse, problems have continued to arise when firstly they’re unaware of their responsibility to do so, and secondly they’re unaware the watercourse is even there in the first place.
There have been delays when clearing some pipes because many of them go through people’s gardens, and since many residents have no form of manhole cover in their garden it makes locating the watercourse a lot more difficult.
The problem is believed to have started in the 1970’s when people were first given the option to cover up their watercourses. So because of covered up private water courses, many of which have been silted and piped up, it’s hard to see if they are still in good condition or not. Several of these watercourses will need to be unblocked and made available to maintain if needed in the event of any further problems.
Funding Needed for Repairs
The island will need to avoid similar problems such as last July, which is why a bid for £24 million of government funding for repairs has been put forward by Anglian Water, Essex Highways and Castle Point Council. This money will be important to protect the island from flooding in the future, and also is hoped to help some of the riparian landowners who need help with blocked or damaged pipes. It is thought that many of the older pipes have been blocked by relatively recent building works and could be very difficult to fix. It is likely that some will need to be rerouted around new homes.
This money will be especially important for people who previously would have been facing an expensive bill for drain maintenance of a watercourse underneath their property, which they may not have known was there. By adopting a more sympathetic view on those who were completely unaware, rather than simply leaving it up to them to take care of, it’s more beneficial for the whole process.
Last July was a big wake up call to Canvey and it seems the damage caused is something both residents and the council want to avoid at all costs. The lack of maintenance of private watercourses owned by unaware residents has been a serious issue. Now the problem is being addressed and a bid for funding has been made, Canvey can make the right steps to keep their drains clear and avoid future flooding.